Bolstering the growth of democracy in other countries has joined countering terrorism and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction as the top strategic missions for the nation's intelligence agencies, according to a document released yesterday by Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte.
Titled "The National Intelligence Strategy of the United States," the publication publicly sets out for the first time the strategic missions laid out by the director of national intelligence for the country's 15 agencies.
Negroponte said the strategic mission to "bolster the growth of democracy and sustain peaceful democratic states" is aimed at providing policymakers with information to alert them as to how countries are progressing toward democracy, allowing them to understand the "success or failure to achieve good governance." Although he did not mention Iraq, it would appear that the need to understand that country's progress would fit his description.
Negroponte said mission priorities as described in the document have not changed for the agencies, but two former senior intelligence officials said yesterday one involving democracy appeared new.
During the Cold War, the CIA carried out covert activities in many countries, including some in Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe, to support democratic leaders and political parties that opposed communist governments.
A senior intelligence official, who appeared with Negroponte at a briefing for reporters but asked not to be identified, said the democracy mission statement does not describe such covert operations but only outlines collection and analysis of so-called soft power intelligence in contrast to the threat-based intelligence that has been emphasized in the past.
The publication also lays out 10 goals, termed "enterprise objectives," that Negroponte hopes to accomplish as a result of the restructuring and transformation of the agencies that has begun since he took over as President Bush's chief intelligence adviser six months ago. These include many steps recommended by the Sept. 11 commission and the president's intelligence commission such as sharing of intelligence between agencies and creation of uniform security practices.
The public release of the intelligence strategy "shows Congress and the public our commitment to building an intelligence community that is more unified, coordinated and effective," Negroponte told reporters at the briefing. He added that the document will help the individual agencies under him align their activities to these missions.
In the past, the mission statement had been contained in a classified document produced by the DNI's predecessor, the director of central intelligence, according to a senior intelligence official.
One "enterprise" objective calls for establishing new and strengthened relationships with foreign intelligence services. That appears to conflict with goals recently set out by CIA Director Porter J. Goss who told his agency he wants to increase unilateral human intelligence collection and reduce reliance on foreign liaison relationships.
The senior intelligence official said that though U.S. human intelligence collection will increase, "we have a lot more to harvest with allies," and that both approaches will be used.